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Bull Sharks' best crowned at Rugby Awards night

Rhian Stowers
2023 Slipper Trophy winner Rhian Stowers

Rhian Stowers has capped a sensational return to rugby with a best and fairest clean sweep and a message directly from the Wallabies’ World Cup base in France.

The speedster left defenders in his wake all season long in Queensland Premier Rugby and his teammates suffered the same fate at the Bond University Rugby Club’s award night as he stormed to the Bull Sharks two major men’s awards.   

Premier Women’s forward Ebony Griffin, wheelchair rugby star Ella Sabljak and Colts captain Harrison Usher took home the other major awards at the Bond University Rugby Club’s gala function at Royal Pines resort on Saturday night.

The club also honoured 2023 Australian representatives Wallaby Zane Nonggor and Wallaroo Eva Karpani and 7s players Hayden Sargeant and Faythe Manera. 

Former student Stowers, who returned to Bond this year after a stint in rugby league, went into the evening as the hot favourite having already collected the Alec Evans medal as Queensland Premier Rugby’s best player. 

He won the Slipper Trophy as the Bull Sharks QPR player of the year and also took home the best and fairest award for Bond’s 2022 7s season.

The award was presented by its namesake, Wallaby James Slipper via video from Australia’s Rugby World Cup base in Saint Etienne, France.

“I just want to give a quick shout out to the girls at Bond on another great year,” he said.

“And to the men probably our best year in the Bond colours so that is something to be very proud of as a club.

“I’m here to announce the winner of the Slipper award and it goes to a bloke with a knack for finding plenty of space out there.

“He’s probably the probably the competition’s best player at the moment in his red head gear, and the award goes to Rhian Stowers.’’

First Grade coach Grant Anderson shared Slipper’s view of the speedy outside back.   

“He’s the best player in the comp, he is always exciting in attack with his pace and excellent footwork,” he said.

Anderson also paid tribute to the other major award winners from the First Grade side, captain Lachlan Connors who was named best forward and best back Jayden Ngamanu. 

“Lachlan is a captain who leads by example, he is skillful and hard working,” he said.

“And Jayden is an attacking threat with great footwork and skills.’’

Ebony Griffin
Ebony Griffin

Loose forward Ebony Griffin missed the Bull Sharks premiership defence at Ballymore through injury but her excellent form throughout the season was recognised when she was awarded her first best and fairest. 

The other notable award winners were Zoe Hanna who was voted best forward while best back went to Gabrielle Rivers.

Premiership winning coach Lawrence Faifua said the trio were the cornerstones of the Bull Sharks’ incredible run of success and were worthy recipients of the awards.

“Ebony has a physical presence on the field and always leads from the front,” he said.

 “Zoe is one of the hardest workers on both sides of the ball and is a clutch player who always prevails in the big moments.

“And Gabby is a strong ball carrier who likes to bang in defence.

“She also brings the fun and vibe to the team.’’

 Faythe Manera was 7s player of the year. 

Harrison Usher was Colts 1 best and fairest while Australian Steelers representative Ella Sabljak was the inaugural best and fairest for the Bull Sharks wheelchair side which came second in the national league. 

The Fabian Fay Club Person of the Year was Peter Jones while Stoten Trophy for the best up and coming Colts player went to Kobe Mackey.


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